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Rome Reports

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Pope invited to Way of St. James with a curious gift

The archbishop of Santiago and the president of Galicia in Spain visited Pope Francis to thank him for extending the Jubilee Year of Compostela. 

The Jubilee was supposed to last all of 2021, but because of the pandemic the Pope has extended it through 2022 to encourage pilgrims to embark on the journey.

He was given the typical candy of Santiago, known as "stones," made of chocolate and almonds. 

He also received the symbol of the Camino: the shell that marks the route to Compostela for pilgrims.

"This is what is used to mark the route of the Camino, at crossroads, in the streets of Santiago, and elsewhere."

The Archbishop and the President took the opportunity to invite the Pope to visit Compostela as John Paul II and Benedict XVI did before him.

Archbishop of Santiago de Compostela
"The Way of St. James is a spiritual route. We cannot forget this. A spiritual route for so many people who are not resigned to the thought that the spirit is silenced by the material world and by a loss of meaning in life."

The meeting was very affectionate. The Pope recalled that many of the Spaniards who emigrated to Argentina in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries were from Galicia, and even said on which streets of Buenos Aires they were most often seen. 

The Camino de Santiago retains the charm of an authentic pilgrimage, but the pandemic had virtually stopped the flow of pilgrims visiting the tomb of the apostle St. James.

While 2019 saw 350,000 pilgrims make the journey, there were only 300 in the first three months of 2021. 

Javier Romero